Snow Supper

snow tree

While we sat inside eating supper,
the snow came down & filled in all the tracks.
Vole & sparrow tracks on the back steps,
squirrel & feral cat on the lawn,
the wingprints of a hawk. Even
my own tracks from an hour before:
the snow’s feet grew to fit them all.

After supper, I switched on the spotlight
under the gable, went out into the storm
& stood looking up.
Here in between these seeming absolutes —
black above, white below — the mix
is anything but gray.
Black pepper from the islands.
Salt from the encircling sea.

snow falling on camera

14 Replies to “Snow Supper”

  1. You have snow, and that stunning quiet that follows its fall. Just a few days ago we had more snow than I’ve seen in years. We’re now gearing up for El Nino. Warm temps and sunshine. Many seasons in one.

  2. Love the images,
    and particularly the second stanza.
    Feels so familiar.
    I like to stand outside at night
    looking up as the flakes come down.
    When I was a kid,
    I liked to stand looking up with my mouth open
    and let the cold flakes fall on my tongue.
    In fact, I still do that sometimes.
    (Basically, I’m just a very old kid).

  3. I haven’t seen anything like the top photo since I saw a tree seemingly filled with fireflies this past Fourth of July night.

    I love this poem! The idea of the snow’s feet filling tracks; the black-and-white middle ground your floodlight finds. Handsomely done; the photos and verse complement each other so nicely.

    I was screaming with my ninth graders when it began to fall again just before their exam this afternoon. I’m now thrilled just to see an inch or two. Heck, a few flurries send me into orbit.

  4. What I love about the pics is the bold combination of nature and artifice.

    So often in nature photography the photographer is trying to pretend he/she and the camera are not there. They are tricking us.

    But here, the powerful artificial light is one of the protagonists in the scene. It is just so honest.

    We don’t always have to take out the human element for nature to be powerfully beautiful. The Japanese and Chinese know this well.

  5. Thanks for the comments and kind words. I’m a bit rushed this morning, but…

    Jean – Feel free to download the full-sized file and do with it as you want. (Go to the flickr page and click on the little “all sizes” icon).

    Carl – Congratulations on an efficient spamming technique! The cat in question has survived on her own for over five years in an area full of coyotes, great-horned owls, and trigger-happy humans with poorly sighted-in .22s. I think she’s on her seventh or eighth life by now.

    Shai – Actually, I took these photos down at my own house, shortly afterwards, without a spotlight – just the flash, and then brightening via post-processing. Your point is well-taken. I think we do need to be more comfortable with our place in nature, and stop using that horrible word “environment” to talk about it. Though of course there’s a lot to be said for wilderness, and for radically diminishing the human population, too.

    Peter – Check out the recent photos of snow in the desert (Tucson) at The Firefly Forest blog.

    bev – Yep. Me too!

    leslee – Yeah, you do fell like you’re on a spaceship going impossibly fast when you do that.

    robin andrea – And we went from one of the mildest Januarys on record to single-digit temps and snow squalls – normal January weather, really. We have about 3 inches on the ground right now, but it varies locally because so much of the snowfall has been from brief, localized squalls.

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